Nicosia, January 25, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
EU and Turkey welcomed on Monday the ongoing settlement talks in Cyprus and agreed that they will continue to give full and resolute support to the efforts of UN Secretary General`s Special Adviser on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide towards achieving a comprehensive settlement, a Joint Statement Following the High-Level Political Dialogue meeting held in Ankara between the EU and Turkey said.
The statement was issued by the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator of Turkey Ambassador Volkan Bozkır, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs/Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini and the EU Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn.
It noted that the meeting of EU Heads of State or Government with Turkey on 29 November 2015 was a turning point in creating a new momentum in relations,including through a re-energized accession process and recognized the importance of overcoming together the common challenges ahead as key partners and strategic allies in our region. “To this end, today`s High Level Political Dialogue is an essential element of our overall framework of dialogue and cooperation. It provided us with the opportunity to discuss issues high on both of our agendas in a comprehensive manner and that will feed into the preparation of the next EU-Turkey Summit,” it added.
The statement stressed that accession negotiations remain the cornerstone of Turkey-EU relations. “Based on the agreement to revitalize the accession process and following the opening of Chapter 17 on Economic and Monetary Policy on 14 December 2015, progress in the preparatory work by the Commission and the European External Action Service towards the opening of further chapters was reviewed.The commitment to complete this preparatory work on both sides in the first quarter of 2016 with a view to ensure the opening of these chapters was reiterated. In this regard, preparatory work could also subsequently begin on further chapters. The Turkish side attaches importance to close cooperation with the Commission in this respect,” the statement added.
“Believing that the accession process constitutes the backbone of the relations, Turkey and the EU reiterated their determination to advance their comprehensive agenda to ensure that this fresh impetus yields concrete results,” it noted.
As regards the refugee crisis and irregural migration, the statement noted that Turkey and the EU believe that there is a need to exert huge effort to address them. “They discussed the implementation of the Joint Action Plan which was activated at the 29 November Turkey-EU Summit. Measures by Turkey to further improve the socio-economic situation of Syrians under temporary protection, such as the adoption of legislation on granting them legal access to the labor market, were welcomed. Turkey exerts outstanding efforts so far to accommodate the more than two and a half million Syrians currently in Turkey,” it added.
“The need to achieve further results in stemming the influx of irregular migrants and in fighting criminal smuggling networks was underlined. Turkey and the EU agreed to step up their cooperation to reinforce the interception capacity of the Turkish Coast Guard and acknowledged the importance of maintaining a system of coordinated reporting on migration and refugee flows,” the press release noted.
Furthermore, the EU confirmed its commitment to expand significantly its overall financial support by creating a EUR 3 billion Refugee Facility for Turkey. “The need to finalize and swiftly move forward the implementation of the Refugee Facility in cooperation with Turkey, in line with the needs assessment, was underlined. Turkey and the EU underlined the need to cooperate on setting up resettlement programs and schemes in a spirit of burden sharing as indicated in the Action Plan and the Turkey-EU Summit Declaration,” the Joint Statement added.
With regard to energy, it is noted that it is a topic of key interest in Turkey – EU relations. “Turkey stands out as a crucial partner for EU’s energy security and energy diversification. Both sides welcome the ongoing preparations for the High Level Energy Dialogue Meeting to be held on 28 January in Turkey and for the first High Level Economic Dialogue Meeting currently planned for April 2016.”
As regards Syria, it is noted that Turkey and the EU stressed the urgent need to reinitiate the political process leading to a peaceful, inclusive and genuine political transition. Furthermore Turkey and the EU said that they stand united against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and condemn the heinous terrorist attacks which have claimed innocent lives in Turkey, the Member States of the European Union, as well as in many other parts of the world.
“The EU also continues to be committed to fight against the presence in Europe of the PKK which is on the EU terrorist list with a view to preventing PKK terrorist attacks. The EU stressed the importance of an urgent return to the solution process and attaches the utmost importance to achieving a peaceful and sustainable solution for the benefit of all the people of Turkey,” the statement said.
Turkey and the EU also agreed on a joint work plan for the next six months in order to maintain the new momentum and start the necessary preparations by holding a High-Level Political Dialogue prior to the second Turkey-EU Summit.